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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

October 13, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Best supporting performances of the year . . . so far

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at the best actor and best actress races as they’re shaping up so far, reserving the right to change things as the end-of-year movies drop into place. Now, as I head out for a long weekend (yes, I’ve been owed a little comp time since Toronto), let’s talk about the supporting performances. GoldDerby, a website that ranks Oscar odds, currently has Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”), Max von Sydow (“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and Kenneth Branagh (“My Week with Marilyn”) at the top of the supporting actor category, and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), Vanessa Redgrave (“Coriolanus”) and Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”) leading the female category. I concur with Plummer, Spencer, and Bejo (haven’t seen the rest of the performances), but have to wonder — is Spencer, whose character is central to “The Help,” really a supporting role? I guess it depends on how the studio decides to market it, but I think of a supporting role as one that is genuinely smaller than a lead role and less pivotal to the film’s central story. (I note that GoldDerby has Viola Davis in “The Help” ranked fourth in supporting performances — which is absurd. If that’s not a leading role, what is?) So I’m not putting Spencer on my list, but if I had to pick the top five supporting performances today, based on what I’ve actually seen, here’s who I’d go with (in alphabetical order):
Actor in a supporting role:
Albert Brooks, “Drive”
John Hawkes, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”
Alan Rickman, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2”
John C. Reilly, “Terri”
. . . and I’m going to throw in Jon Hamm in “Bridesmaids,” just because.
Actress in a supporting role:
Berenice Bejo, “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain, “The Help” (or maybe “The Tree of Life”)
Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs”
Helen Mirren, “Brighton Rock”
Cicely Tyson, “The Help”
. . . and I’m going to throw in Marisa Tomei in “Crazy Stupid Love,” just because.
That’s my thinking today, anyway. What supporting performances have blown you away this year?

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